Advertisement

President Ferdinand Marcos said today Gen. Fabian Ver will...

CEBU, Philippines -- President Ferdinand Marcos said today Gen. Fabian Ver will be reinstated as armed forces chief if he is acquitted in the Benigno Aquino assassination and that the military will be revamped upon Ver's return.

Marcos told reporters that Ver, on trial with 24 other soldiers and a civilian in the 1983 slaying of Aquino, would be reinstated as head of the armed forces 'automatically' if he is found innocent.

Advertisement

'For how long, we will decide when we get there,' said Marcos.

In a separate development, the heads of 14 national and regional opposition raised the possibility after holding their first meeting since Marcos called for a snap election early next year that they will boycott the polls.

'We have agreed that the opposition will participate provided that the elections are constitutional, fair and credible,' National Unification Council spokesman Bren Guiao announced after a four-hour session in Manila's financial district.

Asked if there was a possibility the opposition would agree to boycott the polls, Guiao said 'all options are open.'

The opposition leaders failed at the meeting to unite behind a common candidate but said additional meetings would be held.

Advertisement

Marcos made his announcement during a news conference in Cebu, where he was campaigning for presidential elections scheduled to be held early next year. It was Marcos' first news conference in nine months.

The court that tried Ver and his co-defendants for the slaying of the opposition leader has announced it will hand down a verdict next Wednesday. Ver was expected to be acquitted.

The Reagan administration has warned Marcos that Ver's reinstatement for an extended period could trigger a 'firestorm' in Congress, which has agreed to make aid to the Philippines contingent upon military, economic and political reforms.

Marcos told reporters today that, upon Ver's reinstatement, there would be 'a general reorganization of the armed forces of the Philippines -- from the general staff all the way down to operational battalions.'

Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, speaking at a luncheon in Manila, said Ver's reinstatement was 'politically burdensome' but that Marcos had to respect Ver's right to 'maintain his dignity and honor.'

Marcos, who has ruled the Philippines for 20 years, is seeking another six-year term. The election had been slated for Jan. 17 but the opposition asked for a postponement so it could better prepare.

During his Cebu news conference, Marcos indicated he approved of an agreement between his ruling party and opposition negotiators to postpone snap election he called for earlier this month.

Advertisement

'February 7 would be manageable but probably not beyond that,' he said of the postponement.

Homobono Adaza, an opposition member of Parliament, said the Council would try to approve a method for selecting one candidate to challenge Marcos in his bid for another six-year term.

No agreement was reached on who would challenge Marcos. Aquino's widow, Corazon, and former Sen. Salvador Laurel, 56, leader of the country's largest opposition coaltion, were regarded as front-runners.

Latest Headlines